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Yale Angels: Pitch-Off 2024

By: Roxana Grunenwald ‘25

On June 13, 2024, hundreds of Yale alumni, students, faculty, and staff logged onto the virtual 2024 Accelerate Yale Pitch Competition hosted by Yale Angels to watch five startups pitch their companies. Selected from over 80 applications, the startups represented innovation in the arts sector, fintech, tech, climate tech, AI, and more.

Participating startups needed at least one Yale alum or student founder to showcase their pre-seed or seed-stage firm. In 5 minutes, each founder needed to clearly articulate the current problem, the startup’s solution, why now, market potential, competitors & competitive advantage, business model, the team, financials, and vision. Each startup then received 3 minutes of questions from the judges.

Five Yale alumni in the venture capital industry served as judges, evaluating the startup’s technology, proof of concept, traction, market potential, customer acquisition strategy, and other key metrics to reward the grand prize of $10,000 to one winner.

“I’m passionate about entrepreneurship and making sure that promising start-ups and start-up founders get the support and visibility they need to succeed in a very crowded space. Yale has amazing innovators and living near Silicon Valley, I’ve seen the benefit that start-ups get from using their school connections and community and everyone at Accelerate Yale, like me, is committed to make sure that Yale founders can benefit from the current amazing Yale entrepreneurship and VC community that exists, as we are striving to make it an even stronger force behind Yale Start-Ups.” — Jo Ilfeld, PhD ‘96, Executive Leadership Coach & Consultant

While We Wait...

While waiting for the judges to evaluate the pitching startups, we got an update on last year’s finalists and where these companies are, one year later.

  • Realief: Empowering Patients with a Sip.
  • Drip: A social commerce platform for physical and digital collectibles.
  • Zama, acquired by Volt Athletics: an AI-driven athlete mental health and wellness platform.

In addition to the grand $10k prize, we dove into the additional pro-bono services available to this year’s finalists, worth a cumulative tens of thousands of dollars in marketing, product differentiation, strategic growth, leadership team development, SEO, legal advising, pitch coaching sessions, brand strategy & design, and more.

We also enjoyed a short Q&A session with Kayla Wooley, MPH, MBA (Yale School of Public Health ‘21), founder of Staff on Tap, about the founder journey, fundraising options, building a winning team, and more.

The Results

Congratulations to this year’s winner of the 2024 Accelerate Yale Pitch-Off, Floe, chosen for its demonstrated success in the market and de-risked technology. The runner-up is Prospect Growth, selected for its innovative product design and high scalability.

Stay connected with this year’s startup finalists and winners.


Meet the Startups

Cubic, presented by Andrea Zapata, MBA (Yale SOM ‘14)
“Creating the new era of Collective Capitalism by democratizing the ownership of physical assets”

Cubic democratizes investment access to art for the Latin American market by dividing each art piece’s valuation into ‘cubes,’ or shares, that can be bought or sold. Demystifying this asset and diversifying investment portfolios, five art pieces have been successfully launched and the company is now exploring B2B collaborations with large financial institutions.

Floe, presented by David Dellal, PhD (Yale University ‘23)
“The Smart Solution to Rooftop Ice & Snow Buildup”

Floe is a novel rooftop solution that predicts and detects ice and snow issues. By pumping clear, biodegradable, non-corrosive, and plant-safe liquid deicing fluid on rooftops, Floe is more reliable, safe, and energy-efficient than other solutions currently on the market. Floe also pairs their deicing product with complementary software to create a one-stop solution that can expand across other infrastructure verticals.

LeanCon, presented by Ziv Levi, MBA (Yale SOM ‘24)
“The First AI-Powered Construction Engineering Team”

LeanCon is an AI-powered software that uses the CAD building model to automate the construction process. From project planning to management, LeanCon provides the solutions to hard-to-answer construction questions, making the construction process more efficient, less costly, and more productive.

Prospect Growth, presented by Andreas Backhaus, PhD, MS (Yale University ‘24)
“Helping farmers grow more, with less”

Prospect Growth is an agriculture tech company revolutionizing the fertilizer industry by producing nanoparticle-based fertilizers that increase crop yields and reduce nutrient runoff and loss. Incorporating green chemistry and clean energy principles, this nanofertilizer is scalable, low-cost, and crop- and condition-personalizable, meeting agriculture needs with a more efficient, less expensive, and greener solution.

WindLoop, presented by Shubh Jain, MEM candidate (Yale School of Environment ‘25)
“Circularity for the Wind Industry”

WindLoop is a wind turbine recycling technology that seeks to build a circular economy for the wind industry. Addressing the bulk of wind turbine blades that end up in landfills after ~10 years, primarily affecting low income and minority communities, WindLoop is a one-stop solution to shred blades on-site. The shreds are then transported to a centralized recycling facility where WindLoop’s technology breaks down the materials into metals, epoxy, and glass, which go back into the wind turbine blade manufacturing cycle to re-contribute to this renewable energy source.

Honorable mention to the following semifinalist startups: Liv Labs, Solidec, Sensytec, and 3X Genetics.


Meet the Judges

Megan Cain MBA'19

Megan is an investor at the Westly Group, an early stage VC fund focused on investing at the intersection of electrification and automation. Prior to joining the Westly Group, Megan worked at Morgan Stanley within the Global Power, Utilities & Clean Technology Investment Banking group. Prior to Morgan Stanley, Megan worked at Goldman Sachs within the Prime Brokerage division. Megan began her career at the New York Stock Exchange within the Technology group where she served as Product Manager for a liquidity discovery software platform. Megan holds a BS in Industrial Engineering from Lehigh University and an MBA from the Yale School of Management.

Art Chang '85

Art Chang is a professor and program leader at Columbia University's School of Professional Studies in the Masters Program in Technology Management. Art has been a technology entrepreneur, advisor and investor in numerous startups in over 20 industries over his 40-year career. Art’s accomplishments include the creation of JPMorgan’s Global Legal Knowledge Management system; co-creating NYC Votes with the NYC Campaign Finance Board staff; co-creating Casebook for government child welfare with the Annie E. Casey Foundation; founding team member of the Queens West development in Long Island City; and a catalyst in the creation of New York City’s tech startup community. Art was the second man to graduate from Yale University with a BA in Women’s Studies, which he earned while working full-time.  Art received his MBA in Finance from New York University.

Cheryl Contee '93

Cheryl Contee is CEO at The Impact Seat Foundation, where she leads early stage portfolio companies to success, provides resources for underrepresented founders, and helps build a new investment paradigm. In addition to her role at the TISF, Cheryl is the Founder and Chair of Do Big Things, a mission-based digital marketing agency. She was also the National Board Chair for Netroots Nation, the co-founder of, and a New Media Ventures board member. In 2023, Cheryl is launching the re-edition of her Amazon best-selling book, Mechanical Bull: How You Can Achieve Startup Success.

Jacob Mullins '05

Jacob Mullins is a Managing Director at Shasta Ventures based in San Francisco. Jacob co-leads the firm’s investments in Software-as-a-Service applications and Applied Artificial Intelligence, specifically Computer Vision. He has also invested in Fintech, Esports, AR/VR and blockchain/web3. Prior to Shasta, Jacob was a multi-time co-founder of companies in Consumer Products (Hoodia Products founded while at Yale in 2003), Media ( and Fintech ( Jacob graduated from Yale College in 2005 where was a member of Trumbull College and is a Gates Millennium Scholar.

Christopher Wan '17

Christopher Wan is an investor in the San Francisco office, where he focuses primarily on early-stage deep technologies. Before joining Bessemer, Chris was at In-Q-Tel and Tusk Ventures, investing in companies at the intersection of technology and government. Chris was also part of the Stanford Institute for Human-Centered AI, where he researched and wrote policy proposals on artificial intelligence. He began his career as a software engineer on Facebook’s News Credibility team. Chris earned a bachelor’s degree in computer science from Yale University (PC ’17), where he helped lead and found a few hackathons. He is a member of the California State Bar and is an alum at Stanford Law School and the Stanford Graduate School of Business.